JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville’s Bicentennial celebration is happening Saturday all over downtown.
Officials are expecting large crowds for blocks surrounding James Weldon Johnson Park in front of City Hall and with that comes fears for many on edge following the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
News4JAX reporter Scott Johnson spoke with retired JSO Swat Officer James Brown to discuss what attendees need to know before they go.
Brown said officials will be all over the area -- both in and out of uniform -- keeping the community safe.
Related: Jacksonville’s bicentennial celebration this Saturday | A look back: The toll Jacksonville’s toll system had on the city’s history
“There will be plain clothes there,” Brown said. “That’s pretty much for every law enforcement officer that’s not in uniform -- they will monitor the crowd.”
Brown said the public should look out for people overdressed or things like large packed bags. If you see something, say something.
“They (officials) will be looking for anything that doesn’t fit the area,” Brown told News4JAX. “And what I mean by that is maybe the way someone is dressed. For example, it’s pretty hot in Jacksonville. Temperatures reach about 90. If someone comes in with large backpacks, large amounts of extra baggage -- that’s when they keep an eye out. That’s suspicious because they could be carrying extra weapons.”
Related: River City native excited to recount her distant relative’s role in lasting legacy of ‘Jacksonville’ | A look at the underground tunnels that once connected downtown Jacksonville
The Jacksonville Historical Society is the host of the event and told News4jax that JSO will be all over the place to offer security.
They expect to have a great event downtown.
“It should be a great day,” Alan Bliss with the Jacksonville Historical Society said. “We anticipate a lot of people telling their Jacksonville stories. We have done everything we can to make this a widely diverse and inclusive event.”
Click here for more information about Saturday’s Bicentennial events.